Why should a small company pay for a website when Facebook is free?

Facebook is not the holy grail of websites, yes its free and yes Facebook has 600 million people visiting their pages everyday. But, Google now processes over 40,000 search queries every second on average, which translates to over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide.

If you looking to grow your business you should have both. Your website is your company and Facebook is your free advertising agency pointing to your professionally designed, uncluttered and focused website. Its all about branding and having only Facebook is not using all that is available to get your company name out there. And the cost of having a website is no longer cost prohibitive for small companies.

A traditional website is essential, even in the era of social networks. Without question a Facebook page can add value, but it doesn’t replace the value of a website. Facebook is free to anyone that wants to scribble any kind of message on a page (if you call them messages). One big huge thing Facebook or any other social media site can’t do is add credibility to your business as a website can do. Free is free, no investment, no professionalism, no way to show pride or quality and lets face it big blue is ugly.

Because Facebook is free, you’re literally at Facebook’s mercy. Facebook is a business just like yours and their decisions, policy changes or simply their likes and dislikes may not be in your best interest. You don’t own that company page meaning you don’t own your customer or contact lists either. Social networks like Facebook often change their Terms of Service causing not only removal of business pages, but also without notice and with total indifference to your hard work and years of building a customer base. Ten (10) years of building a presence on Facebook can disappear with the click of a delete button due to a simple policy change. To have full control, building a company website is a crucial. Just like a home, you own it. No one can tell you to turn the music down or gripe about the color of your shutters. And unlike a rented apartment no one can make you leave. Putting all your eggs in one basket is never a good idea especially when you don’t own the basket.

Your website is the sun in cyber space and all the planets (social media) should revolve around you. When someone goes to Google and searches your business, where would you want them to go; the crowded sale tent in the parking lot or the showroom floor with private offices? On your website or on a Facebook page? Social networks are no doubt very popular, but did you know over 85 percent of customers search for companies online. Customers first point of contact with a company is usually their website. Yet many businesses, especially smaller ones, make the mistake of thinking they aren’t large enough to need a website. Whether you have 10,000 employees and multiple storefronts or your a one man  army working out of your garage, like where Microsoft began, if you’re missing a website you are losing customers to businesses who do. With a well-designed and informative website, even your little company can project a professional image of a much larger production. It’s your online location where people expect you to be and expect to find certain company information. Simply put, there’s no substitute for a website when it comes to credibility. It’s your company’s front door and your customer’s first impression even if all it does is offer organized and focused information about your company.

With Facebook (the sale tent in the parking lot), you have to compete with customers’, friends, foolishness, graffiti and other companies vying for your prospective customer’s attention. This means you don’t have their full attention and you can’t control their experience. What if a competitor’s flashy ad or a distasteful ad appears right next to your latest post, who they gonna call?

Today, Facebook is a social giant (half a billion people can’t be wrong), but many other social networks have come and gone through the years. Remember MySpace? Friendster? Someday, Facebook may fall out of favor with users. If your Facebook audience moves onto the next big social network, you’re faced with having to rebuild your audience all over again. This is why we recommend a website, it’s the steady constant pace of the turtle unlike Facebook and the other rabbits that wins in the end. Social networks is still a great tool to meet new customers and interact with them, but the ultimate goal should be to drive customers to your website.

If you have been putting off creating a website because Facebook is easier, we want you to know they aren’t as hard as they use to be. These days, all you really need is a domain name and WordPress. Remember, almost everyone accesses the Internet, but not everyone is on Facebook. (Yes, that’s the reality.)

We love Facebook and believe it is a great social site for businesses looking to engage with customers. However, Facebook should only support your company’s website, not be your ‘home base’. On Facebook, we can’t really complain as U.S. Website Studio is a user of the platform, which provides free and low cost advertising, but we are not a customer. Facebook has to answer to their shareholders, not their users. This article began Facebook versus website but, the real equation should be Website plus Facebook and many other social media sites.

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